Hostos to honor TN’s Latin music artist manager, Richie Bonilla

The Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture opens its 2019 Fall Season with ‘A Salute to Richie Bonilla,’ the long-time Latin Music Artist Manager, with a selection of artists he managed paying tribute in a star-studded concert on Saturday, October 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Theater.

There will be performances by the Puerto Rican singer/ songwriter and former Fania All-Star Ismael Miranda, singer Joe Bataan ‘The King of Latin Soul,’ the Grammy Winning Cuban vocalist Albita, former Tito Puente vocalist Frankie Morales, timbalero Orlando Marin, known as ‘the last Mambo King,’ the highly energetic instrumental and vocal duo Los Hermanos Moreno, virtuoso flutist Connie Grossman and the Steven Oquendo Mambo Orchestra. Noted broadcaster Felipe Luciano will serve as Master of Ceremonies. A dance follows at 9:30 p.m. in the Hostos Café with DJ Brian Martínez spinning Salsa favorites.

As a teenager growing up in the Bronx, Richie Bonilla organized concerts in basements with doo-wop groups, and later young Latin artists, including a young Eddie Palmieri, at various venues including different rooms at the Hunts Point Palace.

After graduating from Samuel Gompers High School, and service in the Navy, he continued to set up concerts and organize musicians. In the mid-60s, he discovered and managed the career of the Bronx group Pete Rodríguez and Su Cojunto who were pioneers in the popular Latin dance craze — the Boogaloo – of which their hit ‘I Like It Like That’ was an anthem.

Another discovery was a 16-year old Willie Colón.

Over his career, Bonilla has managed nearly 100 artists including Héctor LaVoe, Ray Barretto, Ismael Rivera, Orquesta de La Luz, Eddie Santiago, and Israel ‘Cachao’ López. In the late 60s and early 70s, Bonilla was instrumental in bringing salsa to new countries especially Panama as well as Venezuela, Curacao, Aruba, Martinique, Guadalupe, St. Thomas and St. Croix in addition to Japan and Africa. He is revered by the Latin jazz community for all that he did in caring for his longtime client, the late flutist Dave Valentin after his two strokes. At the age of 82, Bonilla is still active in setting up tours of Latin artists to Japan, China, Ecuador and Mexico, and co-producing salsa concerts for the Hostos Center. He lives with his wife of 60 years, Ellie, in Throggs Neck and they have a son and two grandsons.

Tickets for the show are $45 and $35, ($40 and $30 for seniors) with $5 tickets for students and are available at or by calling (718) 518-4455. Tickets for the after-concert dance, for concert ticket holders only, are $10. Box office window hours are Monday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m., and two hours prior to performance.

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